Safety stepped up at schools PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 17 December 2012 11:18
File photo. A view from inside of the new Lake High School. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
In the wake of Friday's Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn., area schools and police forces are stepping up efforts to ensure school safety and allay the fears of parents and students.
"What happened (in Newtown) was a lightning strike," said Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler in an interview this morning, explaining that, like lightning, one can take every precaution to avoid it, but still get struck.
"We have plans that we have in place. We practice those plans," Hosler said, adding that "we hire good staff that are problem-solvers," and that the school district has a good relationship with the Perrysburg Police Division. Indeed, last month district bus drivers had an in-service with the police department covering how to deal with an incident in which an intruder boards a school bus.
Hosler said he met with district principals over the weekend to discuss the issue, and a letter was sent to parents on Sunday. This morning, a meeting was held for all district teachers, presenting to them a simple message to deliver to students.
The message - while it does not discuss the details of the Sandy Hook massacre - emphasizes the care and love that the faculty and staff have for students, and reinforces that they are safe in the schools.
Hosler said that the faculty and staff are in a state of mourning over the incident.
Resources are available for parents and students unnerved by the shooting, he said.
"This type of event certainly causes many of us to pause and reflect on the many things that we may normally take for granted," said Bowling Green Superintendent Ann McVey in a message sent to parents.
"It is important for you to know that Bowling Green Schools have, and will continue, to partner with the Bowling Green Police Department and the Wood County Sheriff's Department in the implementation of our existing safety and security strategies.  
"Bowling Green Police have live access to the security cameras located in all of our schools. All schools have lock down and evacuation plans that are practiced under the supervision of a police officer. During school hours doors are locked and staff is highly vigilant in ensuring that visitors have checked in at the office," her e-mail continued.
School staff and other resources, the message said, are available to support children upset by the incident, and "BG Schools are committed to student and staff safety and will continue to evaluate, update, and practice our safety plans on a regular basis."
A community-wide message in the Eastwood School District noted that all of this week there will be additional supervision before, during, and after school in all of the parking lots and student spaces, as well as increased police presences.
In the long-term, the message from Superintended Brent Welker stated that "along with the other districts in Wood County, Eastwood teachers have been trained on enhanced lock down techniques that give faculty members more freedom to evacuate the building should there be an intruder. No longer will students be taught to be sitting ducks if an intruder enters the building and begins shooting. Last week, the middle school worked with teachers and students on these new procedures. Pemberville and Luckey have also had discussions beyond the staff training."
The schools, Welker noted, now lock all doors during the day save for a single access point, and the concept of door cameras and a buzzer system is to be revisited.
"Maybe this incident has pushed us past the tipping point where we are finally willing to sacrifice convenience for security," he said in his e-mail.
"The best long term way to end this cycle of violence is to connect those who are at risk with services and demand treatment for those we feel are at risk." He added, "We need to continue to make sure that Eastwood's school culture is positive and safe for all kids."
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said this morning that deputies were present at most of the schools within their primary enforcement area this morning, and that School Resource Officers (SROs) were very visible.
Deputies will be at the schools throughout the week, he said, additionally noting that patrol deputies are encouraged to stop at schools on their rounds and do walkthroughs of the buildings "not because we're concerned about this happening, but to calm things down" and be as visible as possible.
Lt. Brad Biller of Bowling Green Police said this morning that they anticipate "a higher police presence than what we would normally see" at schools in the city, though a comprehensive plan has not yet been created.

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